The coming eight days are an important time for international managers as they try to secure a place at next summer’s World Cup Finals in Brazil. Many of the Tottenham players are involved in those crucial qualifying games.
Kyle Walker, Jermain Defoe and Andros Townsend are with the England squad who face two home games against Montenegro and Poland, knowing that two wins will see them remain top of Group H and in the draw for the World Cup Finals. With injuries in defence, Kyle Walker will probably start both games while it has been suggested in the press that Andros Townsend might make his England debut in place of the injured Theo Walcott. The England manager, Roy Hodgson, however, is likely to take a cautious approach and look for a more experienced option. Jermain Defoe is unlikely to start with the availability of Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.
It is very close in Group H. England are top with 16 points. Ukraine are second with Montenegro third, both a point behind. Poland are fourth on 13 points. Ukraine are at home to Poland and travel to San Marino for their final match. Montenegro are at home to Moldova for their final game. Qualification is in the hands of England but if they slip up, all three teams are waiting to take advantage.
Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli are with the Belgium squad who are top of Group A with a 5 point advantage over second placed Croatia whom they play on Friday evening in Zagreb. The latest news is that Dembele has suffered an ankle injury in training but is travelling with the squad and could play with his ankle strapped.
Belgium are in a strong position with a home match against Wales to finish their group matches, should they encounter any problems in Croatia.
Christian Eriksen faces a difficult task if Denmark are to make next summers finals. They are third in the group, a point behind Bulgaria and are at home to Italy who have already qualified. To make it to next month’s play-off round Denmark will need to get something from the match against Italy before their final match at home to Malta. Bulgaria finish with a game in Armenia and at home to the Czech Republic.
Vlad Chiriches captains the Romania team who are 4th in Group D. Holland have already qualified as group winners but Hungary, Turkey and Romania are contesting a play-off place. Hungary have a point advantage over the other two teams while Romania’s hopes were hit badly with a home defeat in the last match against Turkey.
Romania’s final two games are against the bottom two teams in the group – in Andorra on Friday and then at home to Estonia. They will be looking for six points and hope that Hungary and Turkey slip up.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has played a significant part in Iceland’s campaign with three goals to take his country into second place in Group E. Switzerland are 5 points clear in the group but Iceland are a point ahead of Slovenia. They play Cyprus (6th) at home and travel to Norway (currently 4th) for the final match as they look to hold on their place in the play-offs.
Hugo Lloris’ France have only one qualifying match to play. On Friday they will play a friendly against Australia in preparation for their final match in Group I against Finland in Paris. France are assured of finishing second. Spain top the group, level on points with France but with a match in hand. They complete their matches with two home games against Belarus and Georgia. Roberto Soldado has been omitted from their squad even though he scored in last month’s friendly with Chile.
Erik Lamela is in the Argentina squad for their final qualifying matches – at home to Peru and away to Uruguay. Their 5 – 2 win in Paraguay last month ensured their place in the finals, the first South American team to qualify.
Brazil are due to play two friendlies as they prepare for the Finals in the summer. Paulinho is in the squad which travels to the Far East for two matches. They play in South Korea on Saturday and then meet Zambia in China on Tuesday.
Tom Carroll and Harry Kane are in the England U-21 squad for their two matches in the European U-21 Championships. They play in San Marino this evening and play Lithuania at Ipswich on Tuesday evening.
Jordan Archer, the Spurs U-21 goalkeeper, is with the Scotland U-21 team who are preparing to play Slovenia at home and in Georgia in their qualifying matches.
For Tottenham, Andre Villas-Boas and Spurs supporters their greatest interest during the international matches is on whether the players come through the matches without sustaining any injuries so as to be ready for the next Premier League match at Villa Park on Sunday week.